I’ve been sitting on this blog for a while. Normally when I come back from a holiday one of the first things I do is write a blog. But things aren’t normal at the moment for two reasons, 1) COV19 has become a worldwide pandemic 2) We are on lockdown. I should probably also mention why I haven’t posted for so long… to cut a long story short I’ve been preoccupied with home decorating and work. Also starting a new job in a remote setting did delay my starting of this blog, but mainly COV19 is why I’ve taken so long to publish it. It felt frivolous to share my travel story when so many people had theirs cancelled this year.
But I want to use this post as a wish list for you, to inspire you about what to do in Bruges, when the borders are open, and when it’s safe to travel again. The world is still there for you, it’s just waiting a little longer until you can explore it. Things will go back to being normal, so please use this post and any others I’ve written in the past, as a way to explore the world from the comfort of your own home. After all we all need a little escapism so where better than Bruges I mean – “it’s a f****** fairy tale town isn’t it?” (*see the film In Bruges).
Bruges Birthday: What to do in Bruges.
Sample the best Hot Chocolate in Bruges
Belgium is world famous for producing some of the best chocolates in the world, you can easily spend hours strolling around the chocolate shops in Bruges (in fact we did). But one thing you must do in Bruges, is to head to the Old Chocolate House. This cosy shop is home to a variety of tasty treats, but it’s the smooth and silky hot chocolate that makes this a tourist hotspot.
Head here first thing in the morning, for a milk or dark chocolate takeaway cup – it’s the perfect way to kick start a day of sightseeing. Then pop back between 3 and 4pm to sit upstairs in the coffee shop, where you can choose from their extensive menu of chocolate, just don’t be shocked when a large mug (soup bowl worthy) of frothy milk is placed in front of you accompanied by a dish of chocolate chips (flavour of your choice). This is one hot chocolate to die for, your Cadbury powder version at home just won’t cut it again after you’ve visited the Old Chocolate House.
Elle’s Top Tip: It’s worth noting that you also can’t leave Bruges without eating Belgium waffles, the ones at the Old Chocolate House are incredible so why not tuck into one with your gigantic hot chocolate for a real sugar rush?
Admire the city from the water
UNESCO protected, the canals form part of the real charm of Bruges, whilst it’s easy enough to explore by walking, one thing to do in Bruges is take a canal boat trip. There are little jetty’s dotted around the city, so if you miss one you won’t have to wait long for the next one. The 30min journey is a really nice way to get your bearings and see key landmarks from a totally different perspective.
Climb the Belfry for a bird’s eye view
Speaking about seeing things from a different perspective, here’s another key thing to do in Bruges – the 12th century Belfry clock tower. Climb the 366 narrow steps (one for claustrophobic travellers to avoid) to the top and admire aerial views of the beautiful Market (Markt) square. It’s really fascinating to see the music drum that operates the carillon and the keyboard used to play the tower’s 47 bells (very loud when you are up there and it goes off).
Elle’s top tip: Be prepared for long queues, the tower operates a one in one out kind of system so aim to do this before 11am or after 4pm when the tourist crowds die down a little.
Tuck into some Frites
So, I’ve made it a few paragraphs without mentioning food (unlike me I know). Of course, one thing you must to in Bruges is tuck into some warm frites accompanied by mayonnaise. There are plenty of food stalls and frites shops around the city, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get your carb fix during your time in Bruges.
Take a refreshing beer stop
After all the sightseeing, regardless of what the time is take time for a refreshing beer stop (every hour on holiday is beer o clock). There are over 400 different beers in Bruges, in fact if you visit in February you can even enjoy the beer festival, this city is one of the best places in the world for beer, so trying Belgium beer is a must thing to do in Bruges. Here are two of my favourite places to visit during your trip;
Enjoy a beer tasting board of three local beers whilst sitting outside on the terrace at the Duvelorium Grand Beer Café (inside the Bruges Historium). The architecture of this building is astounding and the views of the market square truly are like something out of a fairytale.
In the mood for more drinking? (responsibly) Of course you are! Home to the Beerwall and a hipster style bar, 2be really is the place to be in Bruges (cliché but true). Make sure you grab a seat out the back in the terrace for beautiful views of the canal. They have 16 beers on tap here but the best value for money is to get the beer taster boards, they have 3 different options (we choose the local and the light one) with the highest beer at a ABV of 10% – maybe don’t climb the tower after that one okay? Each taster board has four beers to try with tasting notes and light snacks like nuts and salami.
One of the things to do in Bruges, that you probably hadn’t thought of before reading this blog is the windmill walk. Around 30minutes from the city centre, the windmills are beautifully maintained. Although they are closed at certain times of the year it’s still worth wondering out to admire the incredible infrastructure that went into creating these 18th century windmills.
…wait Italian in Bruges… how is that authentic? Ok normally I’m the first one to discourage people from just eating pizza wherever they go and not sampling the traditional local culture of the country they are in. But I’ll make an exception for L’Angolo Bredene (near Oostende). Run by an Italian family, this restaurant has a wonderful atmosphere, charming staff and the most delicious pizza I’ve ever tasted (with fresh ingredients, the chef will change and adapt the menu to suit your desires). It’s safe to say we will be returning here again one day.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, have you been to Bruges or is it on your travel wishlist?
Until next time – stay home, keep safe and keep sane.